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Cutting the Cord: A new user interface coming to Netflix on the Web

(Photo: Netflix)

By Mike Snider, USA TODAY, June 29, 2015 – Netflix is getting a makeover on the Web.

All subscribers to the popular video-streaming service are likely to get the new interface next month, but Netflix is letting a subset of its members — including this journalist — test the updated software.

It’s a classy and functional update, for sure. It makes perusing Netflix.com more fun.

At first glance, the menu simply emanates a higher-quality feel. The white background has been replaced with the black one that’s found on Netflix apps across other platforms such as tablets and video game consoles.

Each program has its own widescreen rectangular icon, instead of the DVD box-shaped ones on the older menu. When you want to scroll through a row of titles, on the new user interface (UI), you simply click on the arrow at the end of a row, and all of those titles displayed make way for new ones. On the old UI, you had to hold your cursor over the arrow at the end of a row and watch them move left or right, one at a time.

Netflix.com. (Photo: Netflix)

Should you find a movie or TV program that interests you, hover the cursor over it, and the icon expands to give you more information, including production date, approval, MPAA rating and a brief synopsis.

Click an arrow at the bottom of the expanded window, and a larger window opens with more information and larger images. Ready to watch? Click the “Play” arrow in the middle of the image, and the movie or episode launches. Or click on the plus sign, and add it to your list to watch later.

All the changes seem to make sense for users, of which there are more than 40 million streaming subscribers in the USA.

The new in-testing interface for Netflix.com. (Photo: Netflix)
The new in-testing interface for Netflix.com. (Photo: Netflix)

This improvement — the first to Netflix.com in four years — “moves away from the outdated brick-and-mortar video store concept to one that’s more immersive, with more information in one place than ever before,” said Cliff Edwards, Netflix’s director of corporate communication and technology. “It takes advantage of high-quality screens and our predictive algorithms to deliver the right information to the right people, in an easy-to-browse experience.”

It will be used to help personalize your experience and help Netflix learn what its subscribers want, tech news site The Verge reported after a sneak peek of the update at Netflix.

“Under the hood,” it said, “the changes are the culmination of years of research aimed at gleaning every nuance about how humans hunt for things to watch.”

The new-look Netflix.com, it seems, is not just another pretty face.

Originally published by USAToday.com June 14, 2015

“Cutting the Cord” is a regular column covering Net TV and ways to get it. If you have suggestions or questions, contact Mike Snider via e-mail at msnider@usatoday.com. And follow him on Twitter: @MikeSnider.